Game 27: The Martinezes will have to hit their way out

The numbers on Victor Martinez through his first 25 games were ugly: A .212 batting average, .263 slugging percentage, no home runs and a .542 OPS.

His numbers when he crossed 100 plate appearances were even uglier, batting .198 with a .514 OPS.

Those numbers were not from Tuesday. They were from 2013, when Victor Martinez was working his way back from knee surgery, and when some were suggesting he was done. He didn’t hit his first home run until his 28th game and his 125th plate appearance. He kept on playing, and he kept on batting fifth behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He ended up batting .319 with 14 home runs, 73 RBIs and an .837 OPS the rest of the way.

It doesn’t mean he’s in for that kind of turnaround this year. It does mean he’ll get the benefit of the doubt to try.

So, too, will J.D. Martinez, who has his own slump to worry about. While Victor Martinez fell to 1-for-14 in May with his 0-for-4 night Tuesday, J.D. Martinez extended his skid to 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts since his home run off Tim Stauffer last Wednesday in Minnesota.

“He’s just chasing pitches,” Brad Ausmus said of the latter. “I personally think he’s thinking a little bit too much, a combination of not picking up the ball and thinking too much. His swing is fine.”

The path out for both of them was made clear after Tuesday’s loss.

“Really, they’re going to have to hit their way out of it,” Ausmus said. “It’s not a bad thing we see a couple lefties in a row for Vic.”

Victor Martinez’s surgically repaired left knee is not an issue when he bats right-handed. He’s also 15-for-32 with three doubles and three home runs off Chris Sale, who starts Wednesday, and 10-for-21 off Thursday starter Jose Quintana. The Tigers need the favorable matchups they can find against both.

Beyond that, the Tigers need what they can get this season out of Victor Martinez, too. By now, the scouting report against him is clear: A pitch low and in to make him move his legs can set him up for an out. It has happened daily, and will probably keep happening.

At this point, there’s no indication to believe a stint on the 15-day disabled list will change the situation with his knee, let alone a couple days off. His knee pretty much is what it is for now, limited meniscus and all. Fifteen days won’t help that.

Play of the game: Conor Gillaspie’s two-run triple was a culmination of the struggles Shane Greene had all night commanding the strike zone. It was his 57th and final pitch of the game, and just his 26th strike. Gillaspie was the 12th White Sox batter on which Greene had fallen behind on his first pitch.

Out of the game: Jeff Samardzija’s three-pitch strikeout of Miguel Cabrera thwarted the Tigers’ best chance to get back into the game, stranding runners at the corners in the fifth inning.

Strategery: Ausmus said he wasn’t simply trying to give Angel Nesbitt work when he brought in the rookie reliever to pitch the eighth. First, he said, he was trying to keep the game close. Beyond that, he was trying to keep left-hander Blaine Hardy available for Wednesday’s game by using him for one inning instead of two.

Line of the game: Shane Greene’s 2 2/3 innings tied the shortest start of his Major League career. The four walks tied his career high from his last meeting with the White Sox on April 19 at Comerica Park.

Stat of the game: Greene gave up as many ground-ball hits as groundouts, four each.

14 Comments

Years ago, VMart had a dozen AB as RH vs RH. Any chance he tries again?

As of a week and a half ago, the answer was no. Not sure if that answer changes should this linger and become a long-term concern.

Wait, every media report I’ve seen has said VMart’s current knee problem isn’t related to his meniscus surgery. If it’s a patella tendon or MCL/ACL injury, for example, rest & rehab will help. If he has bone-on-bone pain from meniscus tears and/or removal, then he has bigger problems. Seems the Tigers have been intentionally vague on the specific nature of his current problem. Also seems like asking VMart is pointless too.

Sounds like you know what you are talking about. Is this an area of expertise for you?

Not professionally but between my wife, son, and I we’ve had 6 knee operations including 1 total knee replacement and 2 ACL replacements. You can’t go through that without learning a little…

Just this morning I was wondering if they had looked at JD’s mechanics. Seems they have and he’s just not seeing the ball.
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Victor looks like he needs another surgery. I hope not, but that’s how it looks.

If he’s not seeing the ball, then something is wrong. To me, it looks like he is moving to the ball rather than letting the ball get deep to him.

I’m seeing the same thing.

He needs to be put on REST & REHAB

In 2013, V-Mart had mechanical problems which he worked on and rectified the second half. This is different. He’s hobbling around. Even when he hits from the right side, V-Mart has compensated for his left leg to the point he had trouble getting out of the box. It was so bad a while back I incorrectly thought and commented that his right leg was injured.

They talk about 15 days on the DL isn’t going to help Victor. The question should be is it going to help the Tigers?

Kinsler whistled one up the middle last night that, if it had gone through, a run scores and sets up a big inning. Instead it hit Samardjia and the inning ended. Turning point in the game.

Not too much to get excited about right now……so many question marks. I am hoping by the end of May this team is healthier and has ironed out some bugs so we can enjoy summer baseball.

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